Best Gay Activist (2008)

Jeff LeTourneau

We're not exactly sure why areas dominated by conservatives have such colorful homosexual tales, but we do know you can't talk about OC gay history without mentioning Jeff LeTourneau any more than you could exclude Mission Viejo Olympian Greg Louganis or the annual fund-raiser Splash-O-Rama in Laguna Beach. The 1980s were a time when local homophobes proudly stuck "Kill Foggots" [sic] stickers on their car bumpers and politicians pushed for punitive laws that would consign gays and lesbians to second-class citizenship. LeTourneau was one of the few who spoke out against the hysteria. He helped create the Orange County Visibility League, the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club and the local staging of OC's first National Coming Out Day celebration. He publicly challenged the local congressmen who blocked federal funding for AIDS research. In 1988, Sallie Dornan, wife of then-Representative Robert Dornan, shouted, "Shut up, fag!" at LeTourneau during a town-hall meeting. Since then, LeTourneau, a private investigator by trade, has remained an instrumental player in the fight for gay equality. He still contributes time and money to his causes without much fanfare. Even gay jail inmates owe him a huge debt. He's the one who pushed for reforms when institutional bigotry blocked them from getting proper medical attention. So, here we are in 2008. There's another anti-gay measure, Proposition 8, facing California voters in November, and who has been at the forefront of opposition? Yep, Jeff LeTourneau.

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